Saturday, September 9, 2017

UPDATED: 2nd Half Going Well, Klentak

UPDATE: The 2018 schedule has been released. Because only the Nationals (and six other NL teams) are above .500 this year, most teams have a fairly easy schedule, especially the NL East. During the first 60 games, the Phillies face teams with 2017 records near or above .500 only 17 times and 40 times total during the first 96 games, which takes us to the All-Star Break. What does this mean for the contention timeline? I discuss that below.

The Phillies were able to trade many of their free-agents-to-be, making room for Nick Williams and giving Ben Lively and others a shot. The team has been doing better with the younger guys up here - 4 games under .500 since the All-Star Break. The younger guys, except Franco, have made Phillies baseball a little more exciting. Earlier this week, GM Matt Kentak discussed the off-season plans: pitching-focused.


It is funny (the odd kind) that we acquired more pitchers than hitters over the last few years of trades (although we drafted ok in both departments) and it is our hitting that stands out in the majors right now.

Hoskins is NL Rookie of the Month for Aug.
Herrera hasn't lost a beat in the month he's been DL'd (hamstring), continued his 20-game hitting streak yesterday in the 11-10 loss to the Nats.
Altherr & Williams have been hitting very well too.
Galvis has played every game this season, starting all of them except yesterday. Of course, I'm a stickler for only 5-6 starts per week as opposed to 6-7, unless on a hot streak. He continues to impress with the glove but his inability to hit better is a problem. The front office thinks Crawford is a better overall player despite his struggles transitioning to AAA.
Tommy Joseph has held his own over his short career and a platoon with Hoskins is possible if Joseph is able to be traded.
Hernandez is hitting .289 w/ a .787 OPS.
Knapp has impressed when healthy.
In the minors, many players have impressed but one (I cannot remember his name) is susceptible to injuries.
All the pitchers up here have shown flashes of dominance but they are only flashes or at least they only just arrived this year.

Around Spring Training time, I said that we'll be good next year if we have 7 guys that can pitch in the rotation. While we kept that depth in terms of # of names (adding Tom Aschelman - the Intl League All-Star Starting pitcher), the overall quality is looking bleak, so it looks like Klentak is right: focus on pitching. We need two starters and they need to be better than the ones we've been signing - worthy of multi-year deals. A bullpen piece or two wouldn't be remiss. And I will discuss the offense here: trading Franco, Galvis, Hernandez, and/ or Joseph will serve two purposes: acquire pitching and allow at least 1-2 of the kids to roam free. As for Franco, I'm ok if he gets one more year to become the franchise 3B by hitting at least .280-.285 (like he did in 2015). The bench will undergo some changes and acquiring a bench piece or even a catcher can't hurt as long as they're not starting more than 2-3 games per week on average.

Unfortunately, what has happened this year has caused me to think about the rebuild. I analyze that it will be delayed at least a year: contend in 2019 and potential to reach World Series in 2020 as opposed to 2018 & 2019 respectively. However, that's not a bad thing and we should not be unexpected by most; it's also worth noting that the following off-season class is better than this one's. But if everything goes right, Wild Card is possible. What are those ifs? (1) The kids don't loose a beat thru the start of 2018 (easier to do facing weak teams 71.67% of the time), (2) Klentak's signings & trades this off-season work and (3) the depth at AAA continues to come up with some success (even half the success we've had this year would do). Recalling the 3 ifs rule from pre-2014, it's looking bleak. Plus, while that may look like 3 ifs, it represents about 30 players throughout the course of next year. I don't think we'll be able to beat the Nats in the NL East next year even if this scenario plays out and if Klentak's Phillies history is any indication, the second if has about a 30% chance of working out.

And my last thought about Klentak's presser is simple: he didn't address whether he'll sign quality guys and on a 2-3-year deal. I hope so. While we don't need an ace yet, we do need something slightly better that we've had. Jeremy Hellickson was consistent in 2016 and into 2017 and his mentoring of the younger guys was invaluable - Thank you, Jeremy! However, we need someone (actually two starters) in the 3.2-3.6-ERA range and I'm not sure if we can get them on 1-year deals (and we need them for slightly longer than that). And that is slightly more disappointing than the delayed rebuild but we'll have our answer soon enough. I just wanted to know.

Congrats, Rhys on your award and others on your promotions. Go Phils!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trade Deadline Preview

Hello, everyone. Hope all of you are doing well. Been busy here. Still thinking about the Phillies! My thoughts right now: trade players soon, call up some from AAA. So who is going? We have four categories: (1) near-guarantee, (2) actively shopped and likely to go, (3) actively shopped and unlikely to go, (4) not actively shopped but could go.
  1. Pat Neshek, our lone representative to the All-Star Game, is a sure bet to be traded. The 'pen is still rough and will be worst without him but he can fetch us a nice prospect, probably at AA or AAA. His spot won't open up much at the bigs but perhaps create a chain reaction down to Lakewood (low A) - I'm looking at JoJo Romero in Cleawater and M Moniak, S Sanchez, A Medina, and others (esp'ly the rotation - 1.76 ERA!!!) in Lakewood.
  2. After Pat, there really is no guarantee that anyone else will be traded, so I'll stick with bullpen for a moment: J. Benoit. He's probably a category three. Could package him. His departure would be similar to Neshek's.
  3. Let's go to category two now: J Hellickson (doing well overall. Intl Leauge ASG starter Tom Eshelman called up), H Kendrick (doing well when on the roster, so there might be an Aug. waiver deal), T Joseph (doing well and we'll get to see R Hoskins)
  4. And category three: D Nava (D. Cozens called up). You could put Tommy Joseph in this category.
  5. And category four: pretty much every non-pitcher except for Williams, Knapp, Perkins & Kelly. Rupp would not go unless a better veteran is acquired. Franco is unlikely to go since we dont have anyone in the pipeline at AAA. Herrera might not go since we signed him thru his arb years which is a team-friendly deal. He, Rupp and Franco are getting better (luckier) offensively. All three hold their own defensively. Hernandez could be packaged. Galvis could be our future - his glove plays excellently here. Maybe that'll be enough to be a key bench piece - or he could also be packaged. Altherr (currently DL'd) is part of our future. Many others on the 40-man (and some on the 25-man) not really considered part of the core could be packaged, traded in August, or DFA'd (then either released or assigned to AAA). I'm looking at A Blanco & A Morgan, possibly L Garcia & B Stassi.
So who else might we see? Quinn is coming back from another injury but he should be back soon, perhaps Sept. Ben Lively & Zach Eflin could return. Leiter, too. Crawford is doing better but his difficult transitions will likely keep him in AAA until next trade deadline.

Who won't we see: Alfaro is not ready but will likely make the team next Spring primarily because of the option years situation. If he's called up, we risk loosing him if he's sent down. Kingery is doing well but just arrived at AAA and the front office doesn't want to start his option clock yet - and no protection req'd yet.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the contention timeline is slowed a bit at the beginning, IMO, but still expecting success from 2019 on. I do think adding more successful outsiders is necessary. No shame in admitting that you need more outside help as half our core during the '05-'12 ere were non-draftees: 1-2 rule 5s (Victorino, primarliy), 4+ trades (Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Lidge), & 3-4 FA's. And there are lots of players we can call up during the next few years throughout our system, most of the ones you hear about are from Lakewood and higher. Maybe our bad luck developing prospects will end.

Have a great night and happy tracking the trades.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Aplogies, Roster, Concerns

Apologies for not posting here recently. Spring Training is going very well for the Phillies. Less than two weeks to go and a concern is that stats are down a bit but that is normal. I have faith in the players we've got to win 75-80+ games. What's your prediction? 71 like last year? 78, which is my goal for this team? Or even 83 and makes things interesting in Sept.? Helping the stat problem is that it's affecting primarily the pitchers. Hitters are doing well and we're seeing some break-out performances from many. Yes, that is also normal for the Spring. The best news: NO BIG INJURIES!!! I have an idea to share but first, let's predict the O.D. Roster - it's easy though - just four spots to predict really:

Pitchers (13)

  1. Hellickson
  2. Eickhoff
  3. Buchholz
  4. Velasquez
  5. Nola
  6. Adam Morgan (long-man)
Barring injuries, this will be your rotation. The first week will require only a 4-man, 5-day rotation with the off days. So, Nola (injured last year) is eased back in (three or four starts in April) - thanks,! - and all these guys are capable of sub-4 ERAs w/ 6+ IP/start. Velasquez didn't do that last year on avg. but his new pitch - a curve Hellickson helped him with!!! - should help him achieve better efficiency. Later on in the year, we have we have 5-6 guys at AAA that can come up and our young depth gets better after the trade deadline.

  1. Adam Morgan (L), long-man/ specialist
  2. Jeanmar Gomez (R), closer
  3. Hector Neris (R), set-up man
  4. Joaquin Benoit (R), late-relief
  5. Pat Neshek (R), mid-late relief
  6. Edubray Ramos (R), mid-late relief
  7. Joely Rodriguez (L), specialist/ mid-late relief
  8. Dalier Hinojosa (R), mid-relief or Pat Venditte (S), primarily a lefty-on-lefty specialist
Gomez, Neris, Benoit, and Neshek are locks. Morgan is not a lock but is close enough given his experience, age & spot on the 40-man. Rodriguez, obtained in a trade with the Pirates a few years ago, made a few appearances for us last year; being a lefty gives him an advantage. Hinojosa & Ramos, part of last year's somewhat-successful 'pen, are probably the last two in. Venditte - a switch pitcher! - is on the bubble.

Hitters (12)

  1. Rupp
  2. Knapp
We don't have the veteran presence from the Chooch years but Rupp has been on the 25-man for the last few years. He hits with a tremendous off-the-bat speed and throws runners out, but has not called most games well, which needs to be corrected this year. Knapp is pretty much on the fast track primarily because of his age, roster status and capabilities as a catcher. I have every confidence in Matt Stairs' ability to help him (and others) with hitting. As long as he holds his own offensively, is eager to listen to coaching staff and excels behind the dish... we'll be good for next year.

O.D. Line-up (defensively 3-9):
  1. Pitcher
  2. Catcher (R)
  3. 1B Tommy Joseph (R)
  4. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S) - utility capable
  5. 3B Maikel Franco (R)
  6. SS Freddy Galvis (S) - utility capable
  7. LF Howie Kendrick (R) - can play 2B, RF and possibly all-around utility
  8. CF Odubel Herrera (L) - can play 2B and some corner OF
  9. RF Michael Saunders (L)
  • OF Aaron Altherr (R)
  • 1B, OF Brock Stassi (L)
  • 2B-3B Andres Blanco ()
Pretty balanced if you ask me: righties, lefties, switch-hitters, veterans, and young guys. We need to see half the Phillies' 2017 wins on the backs of Franco and Herrera with strong contributions from Hernandez and I hope (but not critical) Joseph. I have faith in Galvis' ability to hit decently and play solid defense everywhere.


This offense, the depth behind them (in the minors), the aforementioned hitting coach Matt Stairs, and the improved pitching depth will keep the Phillies in more games than last year (above .500 through game 60 instead of game 45)\, plus winning a few more games through come-back games (both sides) and shorter loosing streaks late in the year.

  1. Hitting depth is going to be the primary focus at all levels in 2017. The key guys are:
    • Herrera & Franco in MLB
    • I'd love to see Galvis, Joseph, Knapp, Hernandez, Altherr, Goeddel demonstrate they're part of the future... at least the next 2-3 years.
    • SS JP Crawford, IF Alfaro, OF Cozens, IF Hoskins, IF Valentin, OF Quinn, & OF Williams in AAA
    • IF Kingery at AA.
    • 1B J. Ortiz & OF Moniak in A.
  2. Maintaining our current pitching depth (minus Hellickson & Buchholz) is important for this year heading into 2018. Without free agents, we need ~7 starters ready in S.T. for a call-up pre-deadline. We need about 3-5 more ready for call-ups after the deadline. Seeing progress of the guys in the upper-tier of the minors (particularly the 6 that were up here in S.T.) will be key in 2017. Nola, Eickhoff, and Velasquez' development at the MLB-level is also a high priority.
Seeing the following guys make big steps this year means we have a new core in-progress: starters Nola, Eickhoff & Velasquez; relief P Neris; 3B Franco; and CF Herrera. We do have a fall-back: the upper-tier of the minors, but that is slower and more unknown at this time. Either will open the door to free agency next year. Otherwise, the Phillies will (thru unattractiveness or their own decision(s)) have to buy low in a huge free agent market and will be tough to watch the next year or two.

You ready for this year? They most likely won't contend but will be interesting to watch!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016-7 Off-season Update 1

Hello, folks. Been awhile once again. Here's update No. 1 on the Phillies' off-season. Lots to discuss.

First, the Phillies did, in fact, offer starter Jeremy Hellickson the $17.2MM qualifying offer. Surprisingly, he accepted it. I'm glad this move worked out for the Phillies. Obviously there's a risk of injury and/ or regression, but if Jeremy does even 70-80% as well as last year, it'll be a win for the Phillies. If he didn't accept, I would have stood by what I said earlier: we need[ed] to resign him to a 2-3-year deal.

The Phillies were able to shore up their offense by adding Howie Kendrick in a trade with the Dodgers for Darin Ruf & Darnell Sweeney. Ruf, 30, has been shuttled back and forth between Allentown and Philly the last 4 years. He got opportunities, albiet not lengthy ones, but failed to capitalize on the chances he was given. The 25-year-old Sweeney, oddly enough, is back with the Dodgers. Darnell was part of the deal that sent Chase Utley to them and Sweeney got the call as soon as he arrived. Both players spent most/ all of 2016 in AAA. Kendrick played for the Angels and the Dodgers. His playing time cut last year, he became a utility player (2B, OF, 1B?) and suffered a bit - most notable is his BABIP last year was .300: a great number by the usual standard (.275-.305 for most) but down from a career .335-.340 BABIP. He'll play LF this year and possibly some IF when Crawford comes up. CF goes to Hererra and RF is open.

The Phillies also shored up their bullpen but more is needed. They traded money or a player to be named later for Pat Neshek. so he joins Gomez, Neris, Ramos, and others. The core was overused but did well enough that only a few depth moves will suffice. Neshek is a great start. But guess who's available? Good Ole' Kentucky Joe Blanton. Remember him? He reinvented himself as a reliever and middle relief (innings 5-7) is something the Phillies need. I'd say go for it, despite the need to move on from 2008.

And my phinal piece of news - the Pharm system: MLB, as I may have mentioned in an earlier post but no doubt you heard, has ranked our Pharm No. 1 in the majors. Here's one reason why we deserve it - we have 13 top-30 players requiring protection from the Rule 5 draft (Friday deadline):

3. Nick Williams, OF
6. Dylan Cozens, OF
10. Mark Appel, RHP
11. Andrew Knapp, C
15. Ricardo Pinto, RHP
17. Nick Pivetta, RHP
19. Elniery Garcia, LHP
21. Malquin Canelo, SS
22. Carlos Tocci, OF
23. Ben Lively, RHP
26. Jose Pujols, OF
28. Alberto Tirado, RHP
29. Deivi Grullon, C

Thanks to MLB prospects expert J. Mayo for this list. We have about 24 hours to decide who to protect (8-choose-13 - a great problem to have):

  • OF: There is no need for Tocci given his age (21 Y.O.). I think with Williams and Cozens, we're pretty much set, which leaves Pujols out. I don't think Jose will be taken by another team.
  • C: Knapp is a lock and with Ellis worth re-signing and Rupp & Alfaro here, there's really no room for Grullon.
  • IF: Despite Crawford not needing protection, his prominence and proximity to the majors prevents the Phils from protecting Canelo.
  • LHP: Garcia, being the only lefty on this list, is a lock to be protected.
  • RHP: Lively, a starter, is a sure lock and could even make the team out of Spring Training. Appel, also a starter, didn't do so well. Leaving him off will be a low (but non-zero) risk option. Pivetta has done very well and is worth keeping, making it a battle of Pinto vs. Tirado.
The Phillies are headed in the right direction. Lots of decisions to make now. I'll have another update - probably in 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, I'm planning to look at Asche (probably worth outrighting), Franco, Galvis and Hernandez (a trade chip, which I'd approve at this time) in an analysis post.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Case for Medium-Term Contracts

Hello folks. Hope everyone is enjoying the early fall and a World Series that will inevitably make history: the Indians have not won since the 40s and the Cubs haven't won it in over a century! Meanwhile, the Phillies are out of the playoffs, in the midst of a rebuild that began in Dec. of 2014. Over the last year, the Phillies starting rotation has jumped at least 10-15 ranking spots among all MLB teams in IP, WAR, & ERA (and lots of other categories, too). The bullpen, feeling less stress has been doing well, except for middle relief & lack of back-end depth (Neris literally pitched the equivalent of every other game!). The offense has taken a slight step back but the front office has indicated exploring free agency to help all aspects. There is a Catch-22 and I agree that one exists: a balance between veterans to alleviate stress on the young developing core and allowing players to move up to the big leagues.

So how do we balance those out? Writers at, my favorite blog to read, and Phillies Beat Reporter for MLB Todd Zolecki have essentially said one-year free-agency deals only. I vehemently disagree. There is one player we have now that deserves an extension - Jeremy Hellickson. The former Rookie of the Year rebounded nicely and helped contribute to a rotation that seemed to take steps back (poor performances and injuries) but in reality took a huge leap forward. I think Hellickson is worth extending at a high price ($18MM AAV over 2-3 years). He's a great candidate to take us to contention and the market is weak anyway. The Phillies have no commitments from the World Champions year (Oct. 29th, 2008 BTW!) and LOTS of money to spend.

Overall in free agency, if you limit your spending to 5-6 guys where all but 1-2 have one-yr deals and those one or two are only here for 2-3 years each... there will be PLENTY of space for guys to move up. We have a lot of young talent up here already (Galvis, Herrera, Franco, Nola, Eikhoff, Neris, Alfaro, Rupp, Joseph, Hernandez) and a good chunk of that (Cozens & Lively come to mind) will be added to the 40-Man within the next few weeks (we'll get rid of the pot. FAs & maybe Asche & Goedell and that opens up 5-10 spots to fill w/ the guys that need Rule 5 protection).

Lots of money to spend, most of your young future core already on the 40-man roster and a relatively weak free-agent market make a couple of 2- to 3-year deals worthwhile now.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ryan Howard's Legacy

Good day. THe Phillies closed out the 2016 season with a win against the Mets for a final record of 71-91, an 8-game improvement over last year. Before that game, the spotlight was on Ryan Howard. It has not been explicitly stated but Klentak will almost certainly buyout his 2017 option at a cost of $10MM.

We all know about his decline. There were some subtle signs: showed up big in the 2009 NLCS but not the following [World] Series'; a slow decline in reg. season HR & especially RBI #s since signing the 5-YR/ $125MM extension. Then came the Achillies injury - the final out of the Phillies 2011 season (a 1-0 loss in NLDS Game 5 vs. the Cardinals). The injury and subsequent knee issues did two things: (1) really accelerated his decline when he returned and (2) allowed him to provide 0 wins above replacement (WAR) for two half-years during yrs 2 & 3 of his extension (more on #2 in a bit).

The injuries are only part of the tale. Had they not happened, he still would have declined but a few steps slower. Off the field and field-related issues plagued him: family sued him for wealth, Al Jazeera drug report and everyone constantly telling him he's a bum... just to name a few. I'd say he certainly got through the injuries and all the anti-Howard stuff with grace, publicly, but you cannot go through that without it affecting you mentally. That's too much for anyone to handle IMO. But handle it with grace he did. Sorry you had to go through that, Ryan.

There is one thing he needed to do though: come to the ballpark early at least twice a week (like Halladay & Utley have done practically everyday in their careers) and work on some stuff in the cage. Why was he always one of the last to the ballpark? I don't know but I'm sure he thought I'm earning this much so no need. Even so, I don't think he'd beat the odds and rebound big (~40 HRs we'll say - it was certainly a pitching-dominated era). But getting to 35 HRs was doable with some extra work.

His line from 2012-2016: 108 GM/YR, .226/.293/.426 line; 95 HR (19/YR), 327 RBI (65/YR), 169 BB (34/YR), 639 K (~1/GM).

Pretty bad, but only a 96 OPS+ BTW, so league avg. in terms of total offense (adjusted for league & ballpark). Back to the "providing 0 WAR for two half seasons": it could have been worst had he been putting up slightly better but still lousy numbers for all of 2011 and all of 2012 (his oWAR was also low, an avg. of -0.1 per year with a range of +0.8 to -0.7 per season). We also have strong memories from 2005 to 2011: without Ryan, we do not win five consecutive NL East titles nor two pennants/ one crown.

His line from 2004-2011: 128 GM/YR (153 using an 06-11 avg), .275/.368/.560 line (138 OPS+), 286 HRs (36/YR & 46-per-162 GMs), 864 RBIs (108/YR & 137-per-162), 540 BB (68/YR, 86-per-162), and a >1/GM K-rate. Looking at the top stats (.930 ± .084 OPS, 45 ± 10 HR, 135 ± 20 RBI per 162 games), I don't see how anyone can average that over 7 years being that consistent (in terms of st. deviations). One or two seasons, yes, but over SEVEN years? No way that'll ever happen again!

All he did for us from Sept. 2004 to the end of 2011 outweighs what little he took away from us in 2012-2016. Looking at advanced stats - his 100 OPS+ and avg of near-0.0 offensive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) - he didn't take away much for too long: 11 seasons - 7 successful and only 4 failures, the failures driven mostly by extenuating circumstances & poor management and still amongst the top 5 active, over-30-YO sluggers during that time. That's enough to call his ENTIRE Phillies career a huge success. However, he is still the best example of why we don't extend a guy two years before arbitration, despite winning an arb hearing.

Now the big question: Phillies Wall of Fame or not? I vote yes. However, he and Lidge should be the last two up there as individuals (behind J-Roll, Utley, Hamels, Madson, Ruiz, Victorino) but with an interruption: at some point, you need a year (I'd say 2017) in which you dedicate a plaque titled something along the lines of "The [10-15] Core Players from the 2007-2011 Years".

Thank you for the memories, Ryan, and mentoring of the youth the last few years! Best of luck

Notable: he is the Phillies nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award. He contributes to the Phillies' "version" of the MLB RBI program: The Phillies Urban Youth Academy (in conjunction with the Police Athletic League).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Season Review

Hello, readers. Hope all is well. I haven't had many pressing thoughts but until recently. Before I delve into those, let's see how the team looks heading into the off-season:
  1. The starting rotation seems to have taken a hit by with the struggling youngsters & injuries (Morton, Nola & Eflin), but stellar seasons by Hellickson, Velasquez and Eickhoff have resulted in significant improvement in the rotation from last year - we jumped above 20 teams in WAR, 13 in IP, and 14 in ERA over the last year. Our investment the last few years (last year in particular) is starting to pay dividends, but more depth at the top is clearly needed. Let's re-sign Hellickson and promote guys who spent '15 & '16 in AA up to AAA, including borderline players. Time to start pushing these guys along. Paul Owens winner Ben Lively (acq'd in Marlon-Byrd-to-Reds trade) will be at the forefront of those promotions, which are finalized during Spring Training.
  2. The Phillies replaced the back end of the bullpen: spots occupied by Papelbon, De Fratus and power-throwing arms Diekman & Giles are now taken by Gomez, Neris, Hinojosa, and Ramos. They're doing well for us - a combined 3.20 ERA entering the White Sox game on 9/21. Again, more depth is needed but continued improvement of the rotation will also help alleviate the workload of these guys, particularly Hector Neris.

    UPDATE - noon Wed. 9/28: The bullpen has been atrocious in Sept. - 60+ ER in nearly 80 IP. The core of Gomez, Hinojosa, Neris & Ramos is probably tired, having taken the workload of the season. Between appearance nos. (roughly) 50 & 70, fatigue is not an excuse but certainly is a factor: you have to execute your pitches - keep your fastball down and your secondary pitch is 8-12 mph less than your fastball. As for the fatigue, the players now have this experience & will learn from it. Hopefully, MacKanin, BP Coach Kranitz & P Coach McClure will adjust how they use the core and that will lead to less fatigue. He may also request a reliever at a meeting with the front office on Fri.

    One more thought is that I've always liked Neris since his debut. So far, he's lived up to my hunch. He did his job this year by appearing on over 75 games and doing so well. Pitching beyond that number just can't happen and I blame the coaching staff for putting him out there too much.
  1. In terms of slugging, it is a better year for everyone around the big leagues and the Phillies are no exception - four players have 20+ HRs. The Phillies' problem is their league-low, sub-.300 on-base percentage. I keep in mind two things: (1) most of the guys who hit 1-3 this year (Galvis, Herrera & Hernandez) are better suited for the bottom half of contending teams' line-ups and (2) we are essentially waiting for Quinn & Crawford.

    Aside: Crawford wasn't promoted, which is fine. He needs more time in AAA (rough transition) and is not needed on the 40-man yet. Tons of other names need to be protected from the rule 5. He's still has the same ceiling at the next J-Roll but the time isn't right yet.

    Other names on offense crop up in the slugging dept. and we have power down in the pipeline too. We'll get there. However, we have no veterans coming into 2017 and we could use some. Now that Howard's $23MM is out of here, time to spend the money.

    UPDATE - noon Wed. 9/28: At Friday's meeting, MacKakin will advocate for the signing of at least one bat.
So, where does that put the Phillies? Taking into account only a single-digit's improvement this year in wins, I'd say we contend in 2 years (2017). The pitching will be ready by then while the hitting will improve enough over that time, especially if they sign solid veteran hitters, to allow the Phillies at least a wild-card spot. We'll be golden in 2018 offensively, which will combine with the pitching to result in a division title and an NLCS appearance/ win later that postseason.

Notice that I put that progress on the players in the pipeline and continuing to strive for success at the majors. There is one thing these guys need and that is playing time. Hector Neris has 76 appearances and Tyler Goeddel is on the bench. WE NEED A BALANCE. I cannot stand a manager/ head coach that doesn't use his roster effectively. In football, you have 53 players and most of the time I see only about 36 getting to play for more than one series (3-4 downs) per game. In baseball with the 162-game, 183-day schedule... I judge a manager on how many games per week he plays someone.

I like to see - for any one player - a maximum of 65-70 appearances or 30-34 starts (along with a 5-man rotation thru 95% of the off-days) or an average GS-per-week closer to 6 (along with 3 platoons amongst defensive positions 3-8). Manuel kept his guys out there closer to 7 GS/wk and had about one platoon per year. It wore down Utley. And Howard? Rest would benefit him and the team, which it is doing this year. And MacKanin?

Well, let's say he says that the young guys need to get out there but he completely ignores this when it comes to Tyler Goeddel. Unless he strives to get more playing time for everyone, I want him gone when his extension is done... and I share Phillies Nation's concerns.

Enjoy the rest of the season. Maybe we'll see some better baseball the last 10 days of the 2016 season. My next entry will be Ryan Howard's legacy. Until then, have a great rest of the week.